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What is ADD?

ADD, the shortened term for attention deficit disorder, is a psychological term for people who meet the criteria for impulsivity, hyperactivity and inattention as set forth by the DSM IV diagnosis. Today more is being learned about ADD in adults and children but the findings are still very subjective and ADD is not necessarily considered a disease. This can lead to a lot of confusion over how to recognize ADD, how to treat it and what causes it. Brain defects were once considered the main cause of ADD but recent studies have shown diagnostic criteria that classify adults and children with ADD though none have any signs of brain defects or physical abnormalities.

Diagnosing attention deficit disorder is a complicated and subjective process. Parents of children that behave impulsively, show a short attention span and act out in fits of random aggression are often stuck between overreacting and accepting that their kid is just being a kid. Today the rush to judgment is very quick and subjecting a child to medication, separation from friends by placing him or her in special classes and discouraging creative behavior can have serious repercussions for both the child and parent. Determining what is 'normal' child routines and what is a sign of ADD is very hard to determine, even for trained psychologists and psychiatrists.

While a set in stone definition may never be found most experts will agree that someone with ADD will have trouble concentrating, focusing and finishing tasks. Of course, this can happen to anyone on any given day but the continued display of these traits may lead to a diagnosis of ADD. We all have times when we are distracted and can't focus but when that becomes a habit rather than a moment it is a sign that attention deficit disorder may be the cause.

Another way to identify ADD, or at least to determine that a child or adult has attention deficit disorder, is the sign of multiple learning disabilities. Often noticed in children, learning disabilities can include the inability to retain information, finish simple tasks such as reading a paragraph or sounding out words and withdrawing from participating in classroom activities. While this behavior can also be recognized in adults people who are older have often developed defense mechanisms to cover up their lack of focus while children are unable to hide the obvious. Determining what ADD is and whether or not someone has attention deficit disorder requires patience and careful observation to ensure the subject is not misdiagnosed.

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